To Be Able to Paint That Picture

To Be Able to Paint That Picture

10 Years from Now…

“10 years from now…” this is a phrase our team hears from me over and over. Along with, “The literal meaning of passion is suffering.”, “thats not a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal!”, and “Missionaries not mercenaries!”, this forms part of my team development philosophy of making sure every team member lives by perspectives that lead to success. This is a deliberate effort on my part to battle the popular ideas spreading around that sound appealing but really leads to entitlement, vanity, and excuses, all of which are enemies of greatness. I want, I deeply deeply want, every single person in our team to be great.

“10 years from now…” is my way of getting them to learn the lesson under the lesson. It’s me reminding them to learn how to sell effectively, but more than that, to identify and communicate value. It’s me reminding them to learn to solve a client’s issue, and also how to process any issue. It’s me reminding them to learn the lesson that matters by identifying the lessons that matter a decade from now.

“10 years from now, this won’t matter. What will matter is that you can picture an outcome and order your life to achieve that outcome. And you learn that by working extremely hard to order your life to achieve the target you’ve been assigned. Someday that target will be your own. It will be tuition for your kids. It will be a dream home, a dream car, a dream vacation. It will be an emergency. It will be a cause. And if you’ve learned how to refine the picture so that you see it so clearly, so vividly, and if you’ve learned how to order your life to achieve that picture, you’ll be able to turn that picture, your picture, from an idea in your head into an achievement of your life.”

There’s a lesson behind the lesson, a foundational principle beneath the success. It’s sad that today’s generation is so shallowly rooted that they are so easily shaken, so easily impressed by trappings, and so easily vain. We have a generation that has been so protected from the responsibility, difficulty, and beauty of the struggle, that they’re failing to learn the right lessons because they’re too busy either trying to avoid the pain and embarrassment of failure or rationalizing their failure as someone else’s mistake, someone else’s unfairness, and someone else’s fault. 10 years from now, whose fault it is won’t matter either. What will matter is this: Have we become people who take responsibility? Or have we learned how to make ourselves feel better by always placing the responsibility on someone else? Have we learned to paint that beautiful picture we want? Or have we learned that beautiful pictures are for others to paint – for us? In other words, have we learned to live excellently and love excellently? Or have we hardened our pride and vanity?

Those who match excellent lives with excellent love will paint beautiful pictures.

The proud and the vain? For those of you asking why the world is so dark and violent and harsh, here’s what I believe: it is so because our hearts are proud and vain, self-centered yet empty. And that empty hungry heart cries out for filling, yet this generation of hearts has been told to “love yourself first”, so a bunch of empty hearts are grasping for each other’s emptiness, taking what they can, and turning the once empty hearts into broken empty hearts. This generations’ hearts have not been taught to face harsh realities, particularly the harsh realities of the state of our own hearts. We are told we’re great – without a qualifier for what makes anyone great: the ability to make their fellow man fundamentally better. So we walk along believing we’re great without knowing why, without foundation, that when an event comes that questions or threatens our imargined greatness, we whine and are defensive. We are defensive because we are insecure. We are insecure because we have no foundational principles to stand on. Truly great people need not be insecure, for their hearts are neither selfish nor empty, so what happens to them can be set aside for the greater mission. The world is dark because we have selfish and vain hearts, and because we’ve all been told to prioritize ourselves, and there can be no light in a world of selfish empty hearts prioritizing themselves every single day, posing as modern love.

But sometimes in life’s museum of modern love, we walk across a piece, not a mere expression, but the soul of an man, a woman, matching an excellent life with excellent love, and for a moment our hearts say, “Wow…” They sit with us and we feel uplifted. They walk with us and we feel transported. They speak with us and we feel enlightened. More than inspiration, they remind us of our responsibility. These light bringers, peacemakers, lovers, painters of beautiful pictures remind us there’s hope.

10 years from now, I hope there will be a major shift from the vanity and ugliness of self-centeredness to the sanity and celebration of selflessness.


To Be Able to Paint That Picture…

In a few hours I’ll be speaking at an event of a good friend and man I respect, Brother Bo Sanchez. I think about his impact on thousands, maybe millions, of peole, and how he fundamentally improves their lives.

A beautiful piece in life’s museum of modern love.

I think about my parents, and all the honest, selfless, hardworking parents, and the smile of the old man having to push his cab in traffic last night, who Yasmin insisted we helped, and I appreciate these beautiful pieces in life’s museum of modern love.

I think about the missionaries who are serving not simply proselatyzing, of their selflessness to show God’s love through sacrificial love, through feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and educating the simple. More beautiful pictures in life’s museum of modern love.

I think about honest soldiers and cops, about helpful officials, about industrious students, about hungry, hardworking, humble team members, all beautiful pieces in life’s museum of modern love.

And I say, “Wow…”

There’s a lot of crap in this museum, and they call it modern love. It’s modern yes. But it’s not love. And that’s why we reel at its ugliness when we see it’s real effect.

So I walk back to my favorite pieces.

Once again, I catch msyelf, “Wow…”

Then I walk back to my own soul, shadows and all, inspired by those beautiful pieces, put on my pigment stained overalls, I grab my chisel, my brushes, my palette, and get to work, hoping that someday I too may add a beautiful piece that blesses others in life’s museum of modern love.

To be able to picture a beautiful future, to see it so vividly, and then to be able to work backwards, breaking it down into the background, the outlines, the shadows, the highlights, the hues and shades, the values and contrasts, or to put it simply, to be able to paint that beautiful picture in your head, that is what it means to enjoy your God given freedom, to bless others with the excellence of that beauty, that is what it means to love, to do both every single day, that is what it means to be alive.

#db

 

Easy Expressions and Meaningful Masterpieces

Easy Expressions and Meaningful Masterpieces

There will be a noticeable theme among many of my posts, and it’s really the challenging of widespread ideas, accepted conventions, and popular advice that I believe are useless at best and, not only counterproductive, but destructive at worst. I go about this early in the morning or late in the evening by diving deep into a concept until I reach its essence, which is, its fundamental purpose, its reason for existence. In other words, I look for the “why”. Then I ask, “Is the fundamental purpose achieved by this type of thinking? Does this behavior or this advice or this technique or this trend or this event achieve the fundamental purpose it was supposed to?” From there, this journey goes through a series of more “why” questions as I investigate and learn.

There’s a simple word for all of this. It’s called study. We were supposed to have been taught that in school, but how many people today truly study their lives and the lives of others in order to to learn how to live life masterfully.

I guess it’s the difference between a masterpiece and an expression. Anyone can throw color on a white sheet and call it art. But it took a Boticelli to produce a Primavera. Anyone can stick things together and call it art. But it took a Michaelengelo to sculpt a David.  Anyone can compile a series of events and call it a life. But it takes a special kind of effort to live life masterfully.  It takes a Steve Jobs to build a company like Apple. It takes an Abraham Lincoln to keep a country together when there’s a civil war. It takes a Picasso to produce a Guernica. This is why I have a photo of paints on my Facebook page, to remind me that each day, each moment, is a stroke on my life’s painting.

Most people will be living expressions, simply trying to participate and partake of the back and forth of society. When they’re happy, they express happiness. When they’re sad, they express sadness. When they’re stressed, they express it. When they’re horny, they express it. When they feel cheated, they express it. When they want to talk, they express it. When they want something or feel something, the express it, which isn’t necessarily wrong, but also not necessarily wise, for wise is choosing the path, the activity, the expression, that is aligned with our purpose. Most will buy into the idea that “we’re free to express whatever we want”, and we are, but, sadly and detrimentally, will not filter their expressions in light of their purpose. I know this because I struggle with this. Also, we accept whatever expressions others make, telling ourselves that this is “love”, that this is “freedom”, that this is “understanding”, that “love wins” when everyone is free to do whatever they want for whatever reason they want, because we’re all equal. When someone is happy, and they express it, we automatically respond, “Nice! He’s happy.” When someone is sad and they express it, we automatically respond, “I’m sorry you’re sad.” When someone is expressing anything, we automatically express back, without thinking about this simple yet most essential thing: purpose. What’s the purpose of the moment? What’s the purpose of his or her expression? What’s the purpose of my response? The automatic and unreflected response is not freedom, it is not understanding, it is not more loving either. I would argue that it is less because it is impulse, it is reactive, and it is shallow. Maybe the happy person doesn’t need an, “I’m happy for you” but a “Time to move out and be a man. Your life is too easy.” Maybe the sad person doesn’t need, “I’m sorry” but “get over yourself.” These may sound harsh but may actually be what’s benefitical. Just like a coach who tells his team to fight harder, screaming at their faces to show the seriousness of the matter, maybe what people need to hear is not simply a mirror of their expression, but reminder of purpose.

One way I see this regularly in my own experience is when I see hundreds, if not thousands of people like or share my posts, then find that the average number of minutes spent on the post are actually not too high. Which means people either read really fast, faster than me at least, or people aren’t really reading the whole thing and simply browsing. Which makes me wonder, “What are they liking? A piece they didn’t actually read? The title? The little blurb they happened to resonate with? What if the rest of the piece was junk?”

They’re expressing their support for something they didn’t actually read, much less truly understand. 

But there will be those willing to make the impossible effort necessary to live a masterpiece. Unlike those mindlessly expressing themselves, these people don’t start with “How do I feel?” but with “Who am I?” and “Why am I?”, for our identities are closely related to our purpose. These people aren’t randomly stringing life together based on the circumstance or the feeling of the moment, they’re disciplining themselves, they’re chipping away at their marble souls to bring out the sculpture they envision in their minds. The end result is not a mishmash of expressions and moments but a life, that, despite the struggles present in all our lives, maybe even because of it, impacts the world with such meaningfulness. Of course that life is meaningful, FULL of MEANING, because it was lived with meaning, with definition, with a clear why, or in other words, it was lived on purpose.

So every day I have a choice: Do I merely live a collection of expressions based on the experiences of the moment or do I cultivate true art? Do I, like a true artist, and not one of those pretenders, hold myself up to that impossible standard of the great vision in my head, deliberate, systematic, passionate, tirelessly producing study after study until I get things right, ignoring the pressures of society, and transcending the shocks of life, that I may someday unveil a masterpiece.

#db

Product Market Fit

Product Market Fit

I’m 100% sure this will be controversial. Thoughts are my own and not of anyone or any organization connected to me directly or indirectly. This blog is written with ladies in mind because the question “why are there so many amazing women who remain single?” is related to them. Of course the same question can be asked of seemingly “eligible” men, but the answer is simpler in my opinion: they’re too afraid of failure, too entrenched in their comfort zone, too deep in porn, or too engaged in their life purpose to be bothered. Only the last is a positive. 

Many people wonder why there are many “awesome” single people who remain single. The first, and most obvious answer to this is simply, “Whoever said being awesome, or beautiful inside and out, or amazing, or impressive, or lovely entitled you to a spouse?” The simple truth is this: Nothing entitles us to a spouse. Besides, is the validation of someone’s “amazingness” really that they find a life spouse? If so, then why are there so many unhappy couples? Some kind of reward for being amazing. If you feel bad that no one is “choosing you”, you need to ask yourself why you feel bad. Maybe you’re looking for validation in the wrong place. In the Christian world, there’s a term for someone who is seeking the validation of their identity and the satisfaction of their souls from someone or something more than God, it’s called idolatry.

Point Number 1: No one is entitled to a spouse

Point Number 2: A spouse isn’t, or at least shouldn’t, be seen, by you or by anyone, as a validation of someone’s beauty.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can jump into what I believe explains why there are many unattached “amazing people”.

My answer in 3 words: Product-Market Fit, with the term “value proposition” being a better alternative to the word “product”, as people aren’t “products” or “services” but we are all value propositions, which simply means our lives deliver different kinds and different and levels of value.

While every person has identical ontological value from simply being human, not everyone has achieved or is even conscously trying to achieve a higher source of acquired value by the actualization of conscious activities through constant, even rigid, personal development. To put it another way, not everyone develops themselves to become amazing value propositions to the world. Most are content to be cheered on by inspirations, by well-meaning but misguided friends who know how to butter up but don’t know how to confront the ugliness that is present in all of us, and by the popular messages of today that keep telling us we’re awesome even if we’re selfish, that we’re the master of our lives when we can’t even master our job, and that we’re beautiful when we’re really vain, and vanity, for me, is highly unattractive.

To put it simply, we’re all born with equal dignity, but we’re not cultivated equally, so offer different value propositions to the world. A person who cultivated his mind will be able to offer a more cultivated mind to the world. A person who cultivated his body will be able to offer a more cultivated body than someone who didn’t. A person who cultivated his spirit will be able to offer a more cultivated spirit. Isn’t that obvious? (I feel dumb to even have to write that, but I have to, simply because someone will read this and say I’m being unfair, and that we’re all the same. No. We’re not all the same. We may share a minimum level of value and dignity, but what we do with who we are and with what we have, determines what we accomplish, the levels we reach, and the benefits we can offer the world.)

Point Number 3 is this: We’re all offering a level of value to the world based on how we have cultivated the different aspects of our lives.

This brings us back to Product-Market Fit

Product-Market Fit simply means, the people in charge of the product or value proposition have been able to rightly identify the high value needs of their target market segment, successfully developed compelling value propositions (offerings) that meet the needs and desires of the target market, and have effectively (and hopefully authentically) communicated their value propostion, the value they bring to the table, at a price that their chosen target market is willing to pay.

Or another way to put it:

If you compellingly communicate your life’s value proposition and it successfully fulfills the  high value needs of your chosen target market, the chances of them responding to your offering are very high.

So lets break this down. This is a foolproof way to finding an amazing partner, and I believe it applies to both men and women:

1. The People in Charge of the Product: Thats You

One of the most important lessons parents need to teach their kids is this: Your life is what you make it. In a world where people are so preoccupied with what’s fair or what the “rights” are supposed to be, many are failing to understand that all of these expectations of what our world should be are dependent on our ability to make them happen in the real world and not just in our heads if people believe that the world should be a certain way but do not possess the responsibility to act nor the discipline to act effectively, then the world they create for themselves, the life they’re going to have, is not going to reflect the ideals in their head. This is a major problem today: we have a highly entitled generation that lacks responsibility, accountability, and discipline. They want a better world without having the pressure of making a better world. 

The first thing you need to understand, if you’re going to make an awesome value proposition, you need to take full accountability for your results. Let me put it bluntly: if you’re failing, it’s not because the world is unfair. It’s because you haven’t figured it out. I’m not saying you’re not trying. You probably are. But we aren’t rewarded for our attempts but our successes. Our attempts increase our chances of success, but until we succeed, we cannot expect the reward. Maybe you haven’t learned enough, connected with the right people, etc. your life is what you make it. If you feel fat, it’s probably because you take in more calories than you burn. If you don’t meet guys it’s probably because you’re not engaging the world and making a dent. If you’re always meeting the wrong guys you’re probably surrounding yourself with the wrong people. You’re the common denominator. If you feel ugly, it’s not because of the world’s unfair beauty standard. It’s because you have unfair beauty standards. You’re holding yourself up to their standards, when you’re completely free to be comfortable in your own skin.

Note: One common trait I notice among ladies who feel unattractive is that they have a lot of crushes, particularly celebrity crushes. Of course they’ll feel unattractive. They’re taking the most attractive people in a society, who are chosen almost solely for their attractiveness, and then measuring themselves up to them. If I measured my value based on how well I played basketball compared to Lebron James I would be very insecure. He’s at the top of the world when it comes to that. I can be the best in the world at other things. That’s what I’m working on. How do we compare ourselves to these high and unrealistic standards? We do so when we put an undue level of adulation and admiration on them. When we become fans of something or someone, we praise the value of that thing or person, we essentially say, “This thing is beautiful. This thing is significant”. So if what we believe is significant is so far from us, of course we’ll be insecure. So instead of being a fan of others, be an owner of your own life, and develop it. Instead of worshipping how others are so cute or great or smart of talented, work on making sure you’re as presentable as possible, as useful as possible, as healthy as possible, as purposeful as possible – and embrace the fact that no one will do this for you and you need to do it for yourself. 

Your life is what you make it.

2. Your Target Market: For Whose Pleasure Do You Exist?

“Ok, David, I’m taking ownership of my life. I’m going to stop whining and I’m going to start working on my value proposition, my life. What’s the next step in finding an amazing partner?”

Well that depends on you. What’s an amazing partner? You need to define the type of partner you would like to serve. Notice that I didn’t say, “Who would you like to attract?” That’s because, just like in businesses, the most amazing products / value propositions come from people who are extremely customer-oriented. Their target market, understand the key pains of their market, and develop offerings that address these key pains better than anyone. That keeps customers coming back.

If no one is buying your product it probably means your product just isn’t that good OR my product is good but I’m trying to sell it to someone who values other things more. 

What is good for one market may be terrible to another. Like, I’m not attracted to princess with yayas, but many people are. So someone who offers a princess with yaya value proposition will be unattractive to me but attractive to someone else. Again, like I’ll be saying over and over in this post, it’s just logic.

So the logical next step, after taking ownership of my life, is identifying the target market I will serve. For example, I know that my leadership style will not work with most people. Our teams work long hours, attempt seemingly impossible targets, and when we’ve proven doubters wrong (including ourselves) we go and look for bigger things to challenge ourselves with. We don’t have cushy offices. We don’t have crazy perks. I don’t tolerate office drama. So my strictness won’t work well for many (probably most). But for people who want to unleash their life’s best work, they find it to be empowering. It’s not because other leadership styles won’t work, it’s just a different style catering to different people.

Many people suffer from a sickness many companies have: they have the wrong market or are trying to sell to everyone. This is one of the best ways to be rejected and fail. If you’re a godly person, determined to live by the standards of the Bible, determined to love God first, serve others, and be a living sacrifice, denying oneself of the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, why in the world would you ever hope to be attractive to someone who represents values contrary to this? If these are really the things that are important to you, then why do your crushes not reflect this? Why are the people you’re so impressed with poor reflections of this. Again, it’s illogical. You’re determined to make your life a certain value proposition but you want to offer it to a market that doesn’t want what you have to offer. Why? I can only think of two answers:

  • Your head values, the values you know you should have are inconsistent with your heart values, the values we truly beat for. 
  • You’ve just never realized the illogical idea of wanting to live out certain values yet be attractive to someone who lives a very different set

I’ve been guilty of both.

So if you see a loose lady getting a lot of attention from loose men, you shouldn’t wonder “Why is she getting so many guys? I’m better than her.” She fulfilling the high value need of loose guys. Unless loose guys who like loose girls are your type, it should matter to you that they don’t like you. Ferraris don’t feel bad when people are only willing to pay for cheaper cars.

The point here is: Align your desired market with your chosen values. This gives you consistency and increases your chance of success because what you have to offer is inline with what they already desire.

This is why, for people really satisfied with God, they’re not worrying about not being pleasing to man, when their true target market, the person they’re trying to please is God Himself. An unmistakable sign of this is the amount of time a person spends in daily devotions. If God is really who we value, and if He is who we value most, then in many ways we already have the perfect partner, actually, we have the perfect partner in every way. So for people who say they’re seeking God but constantly find themselves fretting anxiously over their life partner an honest heart check is in order.


3. Rightly Identify High Value Needs and Desires: Do You Understand What Your Target Market Truly Needs and Wants?

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people advice singles to make a list of what they want in a partner. I wish someone would make a website that allows people to submit their lists. Would be interesting to see all the different bullet points. This would be like a startup having a meeting, without even fixing their product yet, and the boss begins by saying “Ok guys. We only sell to high net worth individuals who have a certain degree and company position. And we only sell each for a million dollars. ” Then a lowly clerk raised his hand and said, “Um sir, that’s all well and good,  but what exactly are we offering to these high net worth individuals? Why would they want to pay a million dollars for whatever it is we are going to offer?”

Great value propositions don’t start with what they want from others. They start, they obsess about why their offering is the best, and they do this by focusing on fulfilling the high value needs of their target market.

For starters, there are two groups of high value needs you can look into:

  • The high value needs of people in general 
  • High value needs of men (or women) in general
  • The high value needs of your specific man (or woman)

Different people have different needs. Different age groups have different needs. Different nationalities have different needs. People in different jobs, different socio-economic backgrounds, have different needs. And people have a diverse range of preferences. For example, for me, as a 32 year-old, young entrepreneur, who spends little time sleeping, wakes up at 4:30am, is very goal and task oriented, and needs a lot of organized time to fulfill these goals and tasks, a strict lifestyle is important to me. So my partner, Yasmin, who is spontaneous, fun-loving, flexible, creative, and likes free time, may find my rigidity uncomfortable, and I might find her lack of structure frustrating. But if we want to be together, and we do (that’s why we got married!), I needed to learn how to be gentler (still a work in progress) and we both needed to find ways to allow our optimum selves come out by respecting each other’s styles and preferences.

By knowing the high value needs of people, you’re able to more effectively empathize and deliver value to them. By knowing the high value needs of the opposite gender, you’re able to discipline yourself to provide these high value needs. By knowing the high value needs of your would-be partner or your spouse, you’re able to discipline yourself to meet them.

Notice that I used the word “discipline” quite a bit. Because the reality is, to meet the high value need of someone very different from you will most likely not be a natural occurrence. It is not natural for me to sit down with Yasmin to talk about our day. It’s not natural for me to communicate throughout the day. It’s not natural for me to be spontaneous (I literally schedule chunks of time called Free Time). It’s not natural for me to be humble or gentle or patient, and Yasmin desires all these traits in a man deeply. She doesn’t want someone who likes to drink alcohol, and I like to enjoy a good drink, but I have drastically limited this, even removed it for the most part, because my wife, my primary market, has a high value need to know her husband never risks becoming an alcoholic.

Knowing the high value needs of our target market gives us clarity, focus, and helps us strategize what we need to develop to be a person who fits.

 

4. Successfully Develop Compelling Offerings (that meet high value needs and desires): 

Does Your Life’s Value Proposition effectively communciate: Does Your Target Market See It? Do You Make a Dent?

I think a lot of people also suffer from the second sickness many companies do: they’re too impressed and in love with their own product. They think that who they are, what they have, is the s***, when they haven’t validated this with their market. Maybe you are impressive. Maybe you’re not. Because market validation means people are willing to pay the cost for what you have.
Here’s my tip to defeat this: don’t surround yourself with cheerleaders. Surround yourself with standards. Cheerleaders are people who are full of encouraging fluff: nice to hear things that don’t fundamentally improve you. Fundamental improvement to me means moving forward in your purpose, growing in wisdom, strengthening health, cultivating the right relationships, and growing your financial base. Set standards or high levels of achievement. They are targets by which we benchmark ourselves by.

A lot of people love being surrounded by people who will tell them, “Girl, you’re so beautiful.” When what they really need is a manager telling them “Girl, you’ve been late over half the time. Your targets are way off compared to your peers. And if you dont change, you’re fired.” While the latter is more painful to hear, it is more important to hear and heed the wakeup call than it is to rest on fluff.

Instead of seeking someone to tell you you’re pretty or sexy or whatever, go measure yourself. Measure the amount of time you spend with God. Maybe you’ll find that you’re not as spiritual as you think, as seen by your lack of hours with God and abundance of hours on entertainment gossip. Stop asking people if you look fat, hoping to be told you don’t. Measure your body fat percentage. Weigh yourself. Compare it to the percentage standards. If you’re above your height and weight %, you have your real answer: you’re fat. Then either be ok with it or workout. Based on my last measure, I’m failing my body from a fat % point of view. So now I daily track to get back to peak shape. I want my wife to have a healthier, stronger, and better looking husband every year. That’s part of my value proposition to her. So I need the honest measurements that tell me whether I’m doing well or not.

Yes, I want my wife to love me for who I am, but I also want who I am to be lovable. I am not entitled to my wife’s love. No one is entitled to anyone’s love. The Bible constantly reminds us of our obligation to love, but never ever teaches that people are entitled to love. I’m convinced that if more people embraced their obligations more than their entitlements, there would be more people building families and/or building strong communities.

Let’s review our definition for product-market fit:

Product-Market Fit simply means, the people in charge of the product or value proposition have been able to rightly identify the high value needs of their target market segment, successfully developed compelling value propositions (offerings) that meet the needs and desires of the target market, and have effectively (and hopefully authentically) communicated their value propostion, the value they bring to the table, at a price that their chosen target market is willing to pay.

The next part is…


5. Have effectively communicated their value proposition…

Ok, let’s say you’re doing all the steps above and you’re still not seeing any results, it could be because of three things:

  • You haven’t given it enough time (so be patient and consistently develop your value proposition)
  • You have not really improved your value proposition to a level that your target market appreciates. (so be honest with yourself and do the necessary hard things)
  • You haven’t communicated it effectively

Communication doesn’t mean you said something or texted something or implied something or shared something on Facebook. Communication means you got the right message across.

Early in my relationship with Yasmin, she told me that I had communication problems, which made me defensive, and I said, “Are you nuts?? You know how many invites I get to speak? You know how many people read my blog? You know how many people I consult?” to which she simply responded. “You’re not good at communicating in  normal human relationships. You’re good when there’s a mission, when it’s work, when there’s an objective. But you’re impatient when it’s just to get to know each other. You’re easily bored when the topic seems simple or superficial. And you never show your emotions. You always have to think through them. You’re not able to just sit and listen without judgements.”

And she was right. Despite my love for her, what I was communicating to her, was that my time was wasted listening to her about how beautiful the sky was today, or about how she really felt like God was talking to her because I was asking for theological basis. Instead of communicating that I loved her, I communicated that she wasn’t good enough.

My whole single life was pretty much spent on constant personal improvement, and now that I want to marry someone, I was about to lose her because the rigidity of my ways, and my ego, my idea of who I thought I was, was communicating the wrong message to Yasmin.

I needed to change.

And the change wasn’t more words. It was putting my mobile phone away (which I’m still struggling with). It was not working on Sunday mornings. It was not rushing to drop her home. It was learning how to enjoy things that didn’t really have an agenda.

For single people who want to increase their chances, you need to blast your message, assuming you have a message because you’ve been developing your value proposition to others. And what better way of blasting your message, of sharing the value you bring to others and to the world, than service? In my opinion, unselfish, generous, disciplined, wise, competent, high-impact living is the best way to communicate a value proposition worth considering.

Depending on your target market, figure out what actions will communicate your value proposition the best, and do these actions better than anyone else (or your competition).

About competition: We like to think that there’s someone for everyone. It’s not true. It’s not even demographically possible. Now let’s say there are enough humans for everyone to have someone, how do we account for age differences, gender differences, location differences, and preferences? The point is: It’s not true that there is someone for everyone. Now with any finite resource, there will be a level of competition. For example, as far as I’m concerned, Yasmin is the most beautiful girl in the world, and there’s only one girl like her. This means, if I get her, every other guy who wanted her, doesn’t get her. And I’m not one for sharing. So while it is true that there are a lot of fish in the ocean, it is very true that the one fish you actually want maybe be captured by someone else, who was able to achieve product-market fit better. This should give us a reasonable amount of urgency to develop ourselves to the person we want to be, not putting our hopes on fantasies and weird “claim it” ideas.

 

I can’t imagine God “moving” a guy to be somehow attracted to a girl who hasn’t been developing an attractive value proposition simply because she “claimed him”. I don’t think God is in the business of possessing people. He is in the business of empowering us with freedom and faith to craft lives worth living and  worth loving.

 

6. At a price the target market is willing to pay.

Every Sunday morning, around Burgos Circle, gathers a group (or groups) of car fanatics. These cars are worth millions. You can’t drive home a Ferrari unless you cough up the dough (unless you stole it). If you can’t afford it you can’t have it. It’s the same as buying a shirt from a store. There’s a price, if you pay it, you can have it. Now if a store sets the price too high, then the customer is completely free to reject the offer. He will naturally do this if he determines that the value he’s getting for the price he’s paying does not make sense. If he goes ahead with the transaction this reveals some potential problems:

  • He’s a fool and didn’t weigh the value and price exchange wisely
  • He doesn’t really care and is not a good steward with his resources
  • He is ignorant of what things are really worth

All three scenarios depict someone who will have future problems with the transaction. Fools will constantly make trade-offs that leave them worse off. People who don’t care will do the same, for a different reason, which is indifferent or apathy, but will suffer nonetheless. The ignorant will also be easily fooled.

Let’s apply this to relationships, why would a guy who has been developing his value proposition so effectively all of a sudden want to offer that to someone who hasn’t been doing so? It is vanity to think so. Let’s take the common “husband material” lists girls make.

Would a guy who is good looking, spiritual, with a good job, respected by his community, is healthy, and dresses well really want to trade the benefits of being all of that to be with someone who is barely any of that herself yet holds strong entitlements as to how a husband should be?

While I’m not that guy, I do know that mere mortal me can already tell that who ordinary me is, will be wasted if I offer it to super entitled Ms. Claim It.

Besides, you don’t want a husband who chose you because he was ignorant, foolish, or indifferent. You want someone who weighed you (maybe not literally), who considered you, and found you were worth it. You don’t want to be loved for an image you projected. You don’t want to have to live up to that image forever. That’s tiring and unsatisfying.

This is why I like to tell guys, “It takes more effort to make pa-cute than to just do the necessary things to be cute.” It takes more effort to look rich than it is to actually have wealth. It takes more effort to seek attention than to just work on a value proposition that is genuinely attractive. It takes more effort to keep thinking of excuses than to just forget about them and plod away.

So be worth it. Instead of imaging your future fairy tale, learn to be the servant of all. Instead of all the idle chatter about dream guys and dream girls, discipline your ways, be healthy, cultivate your mind, manage your finances well and contribute to your parents, learn how to keep a home by serving at home, be so excellent at work. Don’t live for the weekends. Live each day with diligence. Get good at doing the necessary hard things. Get good at saying sorry. Get good at forgiving. Fight any entitlement and focus on obligations. Stop with the excuses.

If you want a fit guy, stop complaining about how guys won’t like you because you’re heavy. Go on a diet. Workout.

If you want a spiritual guy, be spiritual yourself. You want a selfless guy be selfless. Surround yourself with selfless people. And by the way, if you find you and your friends are constantly complaining about the lack of good men, I would argue you are neither truly spiritual nor selfless. So why think you deserve better?

Why do we think we deserve anything we are not willing to pay the price for? This is classic entitlement. 

If you want all of the above, especially if you’re not willing to pay the price yourself to be all of the above, I think you’re missing two major points, the two most important points of Christianity, which are:

  • Love the Lord your God – who you should be putting all those hopes and desires on is not a guy but God. I’d hate to be the guy who has to fulfill all the desires of a female. I know I’ll fail. A person who has placed her expectations on a single mortal person will not only be disappointed but unable to fulfill the second point, which is…
  • Love your neighbor. How will you love someone selflessly when your own self is validated by that person? It’s hard to love someone deeply when they keep disappointing you, and for sure your partner will. How can we love others when we are selfishly wanting the best of them without having the pressure of giving the best of ourselves?

I said that this was a fool-proof way of finding an amazing partner, and it is. Because what I believe our heart’s longings should do is to reveal that we need God, and that we have deep dreams, deep desires, and deep hopes, but that no one can fill all of them, even not ourselves or our loved ones. For these needs, we must turn to God. Finding our identity in God, learning how to patiently hope in Him, removes our need to burden others with our expectations, and prepares us to serve. This will inevitably make us more attractive to people who appreciate holiness. Most of all, it makes our lives a pleasing offering to God, the lover of our souls. If we really mean the songs we sing, with words like “Jesus, you are all I need”, “better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere”, “You’re more than enough”, then this should mean we are enjoying Him at a level so great that nothing else compares. It’s fine that we don’t have other things. We have Him. 

Additional Thoughts:

– I don’t get people who “claim” their husbands. I’ve heard stuff like “This year, I’m claiming my husband”. What does that even mean? The year I proposed, I told a few people, “This year I’m getting engaged.” then I went and asked Yasmin to marry me, risking she would say no. I didn’t wait for some Holy Spirit nudge to trip her in my direction, or some Christian version of cupid to shot spiritual arrows into her heart, or for God Himself to play divine match maker. If you have faith that God will give you a spouse, great! Just remember: Faith without works is dead. 

– If your idea of God’s perfect choice, if your list of the kind of guy you want, looks like Brad Pitt, has Warren Buffet’s money, has Chris Hemsworth’s body, is Nicholas Sparks-approved romantic, moves with the Prince of Wales’ manners, and preaches like my brother, Joseph, I’m already telling you, YOU ARE NUTS. That man does not exist. Not even any of the men mentioned above are close to being that. Think about what kind of prayer you have: You’re literally showing this:

  • “God, this is the kind of man I want. I want someone that doesn’t exist.” – And we wonder why we’re not married. I think it’s more likely that God is answering our prayer with a “No. You’re nuts.” than a “Sure, my warrior princess daughter. Let me create a male unicorn just for you.”
  • “I think I deserve a kind of man like this” – I would hate to be in a relationship with anyone who thinks they deserve me (or don’t deserve me). Because a relationship is not about what anyone deserves but about what people will fight for. You deserve what you fight for. Do I deserve Yasmin? Nope. Does she deserve me? Nope. But we chose each other and we work this out daily. Thinking we deserve a certain quality person is entitlement.
  • “Hi world! I’m deluded!” – I think delusion is a major turn-off. Who wants to be married to someone whose world view seems more like it came from a hot box (when people smoke weed in a car) than from deep reflection on God’s word and the principles of the world. First of all, do you have superstarlooks, an athletes body, a scientist’s brain, and the spirituality of Mother Theresa? Chances are you don’t. So God’s supposed to answer your prayer for Mr. Perfect by causing him to marry you, despite the fact that you’re nothing like that which you want. I know I’m not perfect. Not even close. I’m glad my wife has a head on her shoulders, and din’t want a perfect man. Secondly, anyone who is so easily in love with the highlights of a person is too dumb to realize a most basic reality: Those are highlights. Life has highlights, but they’re not all highlights. This is something women will understand: if your last hair coloring was all highlights, then you would have no highlights. Like hair, life ha dark tones, mid tones, and highlights. While the highlights are supposed to me make things more attractive, the other sections complete the picture. In a sense they highlight the highlight. To desire a man who is all highlights is simply naive. 
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